Vandals desecrate gravesite

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 30, 2003

It’s not the first time someone has tampered with a gravesite at New Live Oaks Cemetery.

Sometime between 5 p.m. Monday and 6:30 a.m. Tuesday two stone angels decorating a grave in division 32 had their heads removed by vandals. The desecration was discovered Tuesday morning.

One employee of the cemetery said that when the statues were found Tuesday morning the faces had been disfigured and their heads broken off.

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The employee added that James Barnes, a relative of the deceased, comes by every morning to visit the grave and he was the one that contacted cemetery staff and the Selma Police Department.

According to cemetery staff, vandals don’t limit themselves to just defacing statues, either.

Flowers are often stolen, the employee said, and statues are taken or broken.

“They vandalize the dead,” the employee said.

He guessed that the reason vandalism occurs is because vandals get angry over something and take out their frustrations on the cemetery.

Barnes said that this incident is the second time his statues have been tampered with.

The first time, Barnes said, occurred around Christmas of last year. Two large angel statues decorated the grave for about a week before they were stolen.

Barnes then brought two new statues, the ones that were defaced Tuesday, and they remained untouched for about a month.

The statues’ heads have been placed back on top of the bodies for right now, Barnes said.

Barnes said he hasn’t decided if he should purchase replacements.